Solar Power Statistics in the USA 2019

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Altered Energy – Alternative Energy news


The Solar Energy Market in the USA

In 2018, the US solar industry achieved the feat of installing 10.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV for the third consecutive year, according to a report by Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Again in 2018, large-scale PV plants in the US generated 63 billion kilowatt-hours of power, which was 1.5% of total U.S. power generation as confirmed by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA further estimated that smaller systems (mostly rooftop), generated another 30 billion kilowatt-hours.

Fig.1: The US Solar Market by PV Installations until 2019 (Source: Wood Mackenzie)

According to Wood Mackenzie, the US is likely to install 3 million solar panels in 2021 and 4 million panels in 2023.

The total number of solar installations in the US is on its way to get more than double in the next 5 years, and it will consolidate the industry and provide economic strength. 

The Leading US Cities in Solar Energy in 2019 

Fig.2: Leading US States by No.of PV Installations (Source: Wood Mackenzie)

The total solar PV installation capacity in the US is likely to go up by 14% in 2019. Subsequently, in 2021, the total yearly installations can reach 15.8 GW. 

Among the US states, California was leading in solar installations during the initial years, and it is still one of the major states. Earlier, California made 51% of the first million solar installations, and 43% of the second million.

Now, other states such as Arizona and New York have gained significance due to their growing solar market. 

Also, in recent years, Texas and Florida have emerged in the US solar market and added more capacity than some of the highest solar penetration states. These emerging solar markets are going to be instrumental in the growth of the residential solar market in the US.

In 2018, non-residential solar PV market witnessed a dip of 8% annually because of policy transitions in major markets. Also, utility-scale solar saw a contraction of 7% in the same year, mainly due to Section 201 tariffs.

Solar Growth Statistics

A report by the International Business Times shows that the US solar industry is likely to witness huge growth in the next 5 years.

In 2018, in the US, the solar PV capacity increased by 10.6 GW, which was in addition to the previous total  of 53.8 GW. 

The current total capacity of 64.2 GW can power 12.3 million homes in the US By 2024, and the PV capacity is expected to grow more than double. 

What are the reasons behind the surge of the solar industry? 

The reasons are solar energy are below: 

  • Unlimited 
  • Clean 
  • The primary potential source to fulfill the growing energy demand 
  • Strengthens the electricity system
  • Cost competitive
  • It provides consumers with greater energy control and choice
  • Creates jobs.

The Economic Index of the Solar Industry

The surge in the solar industry has significantly boosted the US economy by creating job opportunities. Over 242,000 Americans work in the solar industry, which is more than twice the number in 2012. 

In 2018, the solar industry contributed $17 billion as investments in the U.S. economy.

Fig. 3: Jobs in the U.S Solar Industry by Sector (Source: Seia.org) 

Investment Statistics – Corporate Solar Investments Surge in the US

The Solar Energy Industries Association’s Solar Means Business 2018 report shows that  more than 7,000 MW capacity has been added across 35,000 projects. The report has fetched data from both on-site and off-site installations. 

The report further states that there has been a surge in commercial solar investments in the US. For example, the multinational technology company Apple is currently leading the way in procuring of corporate solar energy in the country with almost 400 megawatts (MW) of total solar capacity.

Also, retail brands such as Google, Target, Amazon, and Walmart have made it to the top 10 investors in the Solar Means Business 2018 report. 

The reason why an increasing number of top companies are investing in the solar industry is that solar energy is clean and reliable and makes perfect economic sense.

Fig. 4: Top 10 Corporate Solar Energy Users in the U.S (Source: seia.org)

Solar Manufacturing Statistics 

An interesting fact is that most of the solar panels sold in the US are not manufactured in the country in 2019. Still, several companies such as SunPower, First Solar, and Jinko Solar are making solar panels in the US. 

Recently, several Asian companies have begun manufacturing solar panels in the US. Entering of these companies into the US market is likely to make the solar market more competitive for indigenous companies. 

On January 22, 2018, the current government announced a 30% tariff on solar panels and cells that are imported into the US. This new policy has raised a lot of questions among solar customers. One of the most popular questions has been, “Where can I buy solar panels from that are made in the US?”

Despite the fact that the majority of solar projects in the US use imported solar panels, still, there are quite a few US manufacturers. 

Here is a list of solar panel companies that have some or all of their manufacturing units in the US:

List of US Solar Panel Manufacturers (as of 2019)

  • Heliene – Mountain Iron, MN 
  • Mission Solar – San Antonio, TX
  • Solaria – Fremont, CA (HQ in the US)
  • SolarTech Universal – Riviera Beach, FL
  • SolarWorld Americas – Hillsboro, OR
  • SunSpark – Riverside, CA
  • Silfab Solar – Bellingham, WA 
  • Seraphim – Jackson, MS (HQ in the US)
  • Tesla/Panasonic – Buffalo, NY 

There are two notable aspects about these listed US solar panel manufacturing companies:

  1. Many of these companies assemble all or some of their solar panels in the US. However, they import the key components from other countries, and these components too, fall under the new solar tariff except for the first 2.5 gigawatts (GW) of solar cells imported in a year. 

In 2017, for example, the US had installed 12 GW of solar panels, out of which around 2.5 GW was manufactured in the country. 

  1. All of the companies listed above do not have their headquarters in the US. Some companies, like Heliene, have headquarters in Ontario, Canada. Others, like SolarWorld Americas, is a subsidiary of SolarWorld Innovations GmbH with headquarters in Bonn, Germany. However, these companies have their solar panel manufacturing units in the US.

Solar Energy Production Statistics 

In the first half of 2018, the production of solar energy increased by 25.4%. 

The third quarter of 2018 saw output from solar capacity topped 8% of total US electricity generation. It was 7% during the same period in 2017.

In 2019, the growth trend is poised to continue. There will also be changes such as emerging policies supporting renewable growth and increased investor interest in the energy sector. 

Also, the implementation of advanced technologies will increase the value of solar energy to asset owners and customers.

As mentioned earlier, solar energy accounted for the largest percentage increase (25.4%) of among all renewable energy sources in 2018.

     Fig 5: Annual Solar Energy Production in the US (Source: eia.gov)

Tax Credits Statistics

The Solar Investment Tax Credit or ITC has boosted the solar industry in the US by providing  stability and growth since it was rolled out in 2006. 

During the past decade, the solar industry has grown at an average annual growth rate of 50%.  

Before the potential expiration of the ITC in 2006, there was a spike in solar installations. Later the extension given in late 2015 has created stable federal policy around solar energy through 2021.

Fig 6: Annual Solar Installations after in the U.S after ITC ( Source: seia.org) 

The implementation of the ITC has been quite successful as it has increased installations and lowered the costs of small-scale solar systems. 

The ITC offers a 30% tax credit without any upper limit for solar systems on both commercial and residential properties in service between January 1, 2006, and December 31, 2016. Since the implementation of ITC in 2006, annual solar installations have increased at a compound annual rate of 76%. 

The benefits of implementing the ITC is already showing. It has encouraged companies to develop long-term investments that will make the market competitive and drive technological innovation. It will eventually result in lowered costs for consumers.  

ITC, coupled with the US Production Tax Credit (PTC) was rolled out as a federal incentive to provide financial support for developing large-scale renewable energy facilities. The policy was implemented for solar electricity systems that were larger than 150 kW placed between October 22, 2004 and December 31, 2013. Qualified projects received 1.1¢/kWh tax credit during the first 10 years of operation.

Soft Costs Statistics

In the US, small commercial and residential solar businesses have the biggest cost-decline opportunity. Soft costs include:

  • The cost of installation 
  • Labor
  • Inspection 
  • Relevant permits 
  • Interconnection 
  • Customer acquisition
  • Supply chain 
  • Other overhead costs such as marketing/sales and administrative costs.

The US Department of Energy has been instrumental in reducing soft costs. Besides, SEIA and the Solar Foundation are working on two programs to bring down local obstacles that come in the way of going solar.

Fig. 7: Residential Solar PV System Pricing in the U.S (Source: seia.org)  

Closing Words

In Q1 of 2019, the US solar market installed 2.7 GWdc of solar PV, which is a record number in any Q1 ever. This growth is expected to continue in the coming months and years.

The Solar panel market, which includes Poly-crystalline, Mono-crystalline, and Thin-film Solar Panel for both commercial and residential usability, will see positive growth.

Solar panels convert solar energy to produce clean and efficient electricity. Due to this reason, commercial demand for solar panels is increasing significantly in the US, and likely to spike further growth of this industry. 

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Altered Energy – Alternative Energy news